Transformers at St. Joseph's College Alumni Room Gallery
Updated: Mar 3, 2019
March 6 – April 11, 2019
St. Joseph’s College Alumni Room Gallery
Claudia Alvarez Flávia Berindoague
Meridith McNeal Rachel Rath
Meridith McNeal, Curator
Change is inevitable. However, transformation, the sprout-wings-and-learn-to-fly variety, takes some work. This exhibition seeks to explore ideological, physical, and artistic notions of transformation.
To transform takes time. It is hard to fathom the gradual movement of the continents across the earth's surface through geological time, but certainly continental drift is an excellent example of a slow but monumental metamorphosis. On the other end of the spectrum, a terrifying, unknown dark space can be instantly made benign with the flip of a light switch. Jane Huntington’s photographs of a neglected stuffed toy rescued and reclaimed, then turned artists model in a spring garden remind me of the saga of that famous changeling the Velveteen Rabbit. My own paintings included in this exhibition depict reflections in the glass fronted display case of historic dioramas at The Old Stone House. In effect, the past coexists with the present. These pieces set out to transform our perception of time, light, vision—and knowledge.
Hiding behind a mask allows us to become, if only temporarily someone or even something else. While behind the mask we are the same, to someone looking on we appear different. Expert knitter Dennis Buonagura takes on this phenomenon in his set of hand-crafted wool, cotton, and acrylic masks. His balaclava headwear takes inspiration from tribal masks and superhero accoutrements. In her series of portraits that find beauty in and celebrate what might be perceived as flawed features, Fatima Traore challenges her viewers to assess their own biases and culturally sanctioned ideals.
Action precipitates and is propagated by change. As a trained architect, Quentin Williamston envisions then renders what will be built. As an artist, Quentin has created the diptych on view that uses his architectural rendering as a springboard for his imaginative structure that would fit right into Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities. As a double-headed New Year’s resolution in 2013, Rachel Rath embarked upon her nightly diary of self-portraits. Rachel’s four drawings chart the transformation of a romantic relationship. Like an alchemist, an artist turns lead to gold. Glendalys Medina’s drawings, which memorialize moments of change and personal growth use Hip-Hop culture, abstraction, and new age thinking as the foundation for this investigation. The basic shapes on the face of a boom box and typography familiar from graffiti provide the forms for this body of work.
At a time when connections are fragmented—when we have social media, network news, “fake news,” and arguments standing in for straightforward interchange, and when people are divided along shifting economic, racial, political, and ideological lines that are not always clear-cut—the communion that art inspires is more important than ever. Brazilian born artist Flávia Berindoague addresses the political unrest and violence in her place of origin. Her piece, which reads “a constituição não está apagando” (the constitution is not erasing), is meant as a message of hope for the people of Brazil. Claudia Alvarez’s Colchitas, painted on traditional Mexican baby blankets made by her mother convey the interconnection between child and adult, thoughts about culture, race, assimilation, and their socio-political implications. The Colchitas have a sort of reverence for dreams, interwoven with history, culture, and new possibilities.
The artists included in this exhibition are changemakers on many levels. We are a community of creative thinkers, expansive dreamers, and well-educated art makers. We believe that the practice of learning, creating, thinking, and discussing art nourishes people of all ages in body, mind, heart, and spirit. In addition, the creative act of looking outside oneself can help to foster a sense of civic responsibility and awareness of social justice.
Together we are ART YARD BKLYN offering art education programs for kids as young as four through young adults, providing direct access to contemporary visual art. This exhibition gives us the opportunity to introduce you to the work we are doing in our own studios, which in turn inspires us in the classroom. This is our Time of Transformation!
~ Meridith McNeal